19 Sep 2017, 00:00
Kerstine Appunn Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

End diesel privilege to cut CO2 - study / Low biomass tender turnout


Ending diesel tax benefits in the EU would significantly help decrease CO₂ and nitrogen oxide emissions in road transport, because diesel vehicle users are very price sensitive, the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) say in a press release. In a new study, the researchers examined how fuel consumption changed with rising prices, and found that diesel vehicle drivers used much less fuel when prices increased (an increase of 20 euro cents per litre led to a 14 percent drop in consumption). Abolishing diesel tax benefits or introducing a CO₂ tax would significantly help reduce emissions. “As diesel vehicles are used especially by companies – which react very sensitively to the petrol pump prices – this is an excellent lever for the government to incentivise changes in behaviour”, said Nicolas Koch, study author and researcher at MCC.

Find the press release in English here and the study in English here.

For background, read the CLEW article Why the German diesel summit matters for climate and energy.


Federal Network Agency / Bioenergy associations

Twenty-four projects with a total capacity of 28 MW have been awarded funding in the first round of tenders for biomass plants, the Federal Network Agency that organises the auctions has announced. A total of 33 bids with a combined capacity of 41 MW were entered into the competition – considerably less than the 122 megawatt the agency had aimed for. Twenty of the successful bids were submitted by existing plants, while only four came from new projects. The average price reached in the tender is 14.3 euro cents per kilowatt-hour.

Bioenergy lobby groups have said in a joint statement that participation would likely increase in the second round of tenders in 2018. Many bioenergy facilities are still receiving feed-in tariffs, which make the tenders less attractive for them. They also suggested that the auction design should be reviewed in order to protect smaller bidders.

Read the press release from the Federal Network Agency in German here.

Read the statement from the lobby groups in German here.

Find a CLEW dossier on bioenergy in Germany here.

Der Tagesspiegel

Two years after the dieselgate emissions fraud scandal broke, Germany’s largest carmaker VW has initiated a thorough transformation of its structure but will still need some time to adapt, VW board member Andreas Renschler says in an interview with Der Tagesspiegel. “You can’t change a culture overnight”, Renschler argues, saying that the scandal has helped set in motion a process “that would have been necessary anyway”. The company already had a variety of clean cars on offer, “but that hasn’t been met with a lot of interest” by customers, he says. Renschler argues that the lack of charging infrastructure is one of the greatest obstacles to the adoption of electric vehicles, yet installing charging stations is “not the carmakers’ duty”.

Read the interview in German here.

See the CLEW factsheets “Dieselgate” – a timeline of Germany’s emissions fraud scandal and The debate over an end to combustion engines in Germany.

Welt Online

Petrol station operators in Germany will take their time before entering the e-vehicle charging business in earnest, as charging points are far from being used to full capacity for now, writes Birger Nicolai for Welt Online. “We are a commercial company. Profitability is important to us, and that’s not yet the case with electric charging stations”, said Wolfgang Langhoff, member of the board of BP Europa SE.

Read the article in German here.

Read a CLEW factsheet on the Energiewende in transportation here.

Der Spiegel

German politicians might appear more concerned with halting global climate change than the current US administration, but in reality they have done little in recent years to actually improve their country’s climate record, Philip Bethge writes in Der Spiegel. “Why doesn’t anyone tell voters that their fat diesel SUVs are a problem? Why doesn’t anyone denounce the government for adamantly clinging to coal?”, Bethge asks. Germany will likely miss its 2020 climate targets by a wide margin – which makes shutting down coal plants and preparing a combustion engine phase-out a necessity, but voters are kept in the dark about all this, he argues. The only politician who merits praise for his frankness is Christian Lindner, head of the economic liberal FDP, Bethge says. The FDP was “against the Renewables Act, fixed emissions reduction goals and state intervention to phase out combustion engines. There’s not a more sustainable option to ruin the planet”.

Read the article in German here (behind paywall).

See the CLEW interview Dieselgate and climate fears fail to ignite voters’ passion – pollster and the CLEW factsheet German parties’ energy & climate policy positions for background.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

While the Green Party has steered clear of proposing certain impositions on the population– such as higher fuel prices – during the current election campaign, such actions by the government are ultimately indispensable to protect the climate, writes Detlef Esslinger in an opinion piece for Süddeutsche Zeitung. This is due to what is known as the ‘rationality trap’, where what is rational action for an individual does not correspond to what is rational for society as a whole. In today’s society, “climate protection is only possible if the state uses its coordinating hand. It can work with regulations, bans, or incentives. But the main thing is that it falls on the state to do it. The state alone is capable of quickly showing the way out of the rationality trap”, Esslinger writes.

Read the opinion piece in German here.

For background, read the CLEW interview Dieselgate and climate fears fail to ignite voters' passion – pollster.

Zeit Online

Climate change is largely kept out of the election campaign in Germany for allegedly being too abstract and distant, but that is a flawed notion and points at a grave failure of both the media and politics, Maximilian Probst and Daniel Pelletier write in an op-ed on Zeit Online. “It’s as though one is speeding towards a wall in a car and instead of hitting the brakes, they fall asleep”, the authors say. Global warming becomes more and more evident as a problem that already costs many lives around the world, but all the media seems to care about in this election campaign period is migration or religion, they write. Ironically, they add, migration is directly influenced and fuelled by climate change, “which means combating climate change means combating migration push factors”. If Germany does not start debating this, “we will remain silent until we’re dead”.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW interview Dieselgate and climate fears fail to ignite voters’ passion – pollster, the CLEW factsheet German parties’ energy & climate policy positions, and the CLEW article German elections to define speed and shape of the energy transition for background.

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